We all know that effective training equals increased performance but unless you’re working with a personal trainer it can be difficult to understand how to tailor that concept to the needs of the individual. Runners come in a variety of shapes and sizes with a range of fitness levels, goals and motivations and as a result, we all have different and often quite specific requirements.
One of the best ways to ensure that you’re on track to accomplish your individual goal is to train with a heart rate monitor. Whether you’re aiming for a new 10K PB, a podium finish at your next road marathon, your first ever 100K mountain running event or simply just hoping to run faster, further and longer this summer, using the Sports Tracker Smart Sensor heart rate monitor in conjunction with the Sports Tracker App will help you to achieve those goals.
Why Is Heart Rate Training Good For Runners?
Put simply, your heart rate gives you an indication of how hard you’re working which allows you to control and monitor the intensity of your workout. Getting in touch with your body, how it functions, understanding its limitations and gauging progress are all essential components of your individual running journey and key to maximizing potential and performance.
Tracking your heart rate using the Sports Tracker Smart Sensor heart rate monitor enables you to train more efficiently as it provides a precise indication of the amount of effort you’re putting in. You might think you’re working hard but unless you can actually see accurate data, it’s just perceived effort – not fact. Used in combination with the Sports Tracker App, the Smart Sensor heart rate monitor allows you to set the intensity of your training and monitor any gains as you progress.
In addition to helping you push harder, running with a heart rate monitor (and using it!) is also useful helpful if you’re prone to going off too fast, too soon – a regular occurrence in running events and races when the adrenaline’s pumping and you’re psyched to get going. If channeled effectively, nervous anticipation can be used to your advantage but if you want to avoid injury, burnout and a series of DNF’s then you’ll need to work out when you’re pushing too hard and understand how to get your heart working at a pace that gets you to the finish line as swiftly and safely as possible.
How Does It Work?
Heart rate training is generally conducted by operating within a series of intensity zones that lie between your resting heart rate and your maximum heart rate. Each training zone has specific physiological benefits that can enhance overall fitness and performance and understanding the subtle differences between the zones is key: The 5 heart rate zones are as follows:
1. Low Intensity – 50 – 60% of maximum heart rate
Best For : Metabolic and emotional health, lowering cholesterol, improving blood pressure
Translation : Closing your computer and going for an easy run will make you feel better
2. Energy Efficient/Recovery Zone – 60% to 70% of maximum heart rate
Best for : Basic endurance, fat burning and aerobic capacity
Translation : You can keep going and you’re losing weight
3. Aerobic Zone – 70 to 80% of maximum heart rate
Best for : Developing cardiovascular fitness, improved aerobic capacity, fat burning
Translation : You won’t get puffed out so quickly and you’re getting thinner
4. Anaerobic/Threshold Zone – 80 to 90% of maximum heart rate
Best for : Developing lactic acid threshold which increases your anaerobic threshold
Translation : Your muscles can keep going for longer so your body can deliver what your mind has prescribed
5. The Red Line Zone – 90 to 100%
Best for : Speed and developing fast twitch muscle fibres
Translation : You’ll be getting fitter and faster and probably doing a lot of interval training.
How Do I Find Out My Resting And Maximum Heart Rate?
In order to identify which zone you are operating within you’ll need to establish your personal resting heart rate and maximum heart rate.
The best way to do this is as follows:
Resting Heart Rate (RHR)
- Grab your Sports Tracker Smart Sensor heart rate monitor, put it on, and make sure that it’s paired with the Sports Tracker App on your phone
- Find somewhere nice and quiet, lie down, take some deep breaths and relax.
- Spend 20 minutes chilling out
- Record the lowest value achieved – this is your resting heart rate (RHR)
* As you get fitter, your heart rate will become more efficient so your resting heart rate should get lower. The heart is a muscle so the fitter you get, it will grow and become more efficient, ejecting more blood into your circulation each heartbeat, which results in a lower heart rate so conducting this test on a monthly basis will ensure you’re working with accurate and current data. *
Maximum Heart Rate (MHR)
The widely accepted formula of 220 – age = MHR will give you a vague idea of what you’re looking at but if you’re serious about training then it won’t be sufficiently specific or accurate for your needs.
If you’re reasonably fit and have been training for a while then you can give the following in-the-field heart rate stress test a shot – if not, go and see a personal trainer who will help you to establish your MHR in a safe and controlled environment.
NB Never do a heart rate stress test if you’re injured, ill or fatigued.
- Find a hill, grab your Sports Tracker Smart Sensor heart rate monitor, put it on, and make sure that it’s paired with the Sports Tracker App on your phone.
- Warm up for 10 minutes or so on a flat surface, building up to normal training pace and accelerating towards the base of the hill
- Run up a 300-500m hill as fast as you can three times, returning to base between each session. Make sure you push as hard as you possibly can.
- Record your highest heart rate over the three hill laps. This will probably be achieved during the final interval and is as near to your MHR as you’re going to get.
- Write it down – this is the figure you will use in conjunction with your RHR to determine your heart rate training zones.
* Remember that a whole host of factors such as altitude, stress, fatigue, hydration, diet, medication can all affect your max heart rate level. Bear this in mind, re-test frequently and adjust your HR zones accordingly *
How Do I Track My Progress?
When you’ve finished recording your run in the Sports Tracker App, save the data and then go back in to the entry to analyse the information.
The Sports Tracker App not only shows your average and maximum heart rate over the course of your run, it also tells you which of the five HR zones you were in at any given time and how long you stayed in that particular zone over the course of your training.
Integrating a heart rate monitor into your running regime enables you to cater your training according to your current priority. No matter whether you’re looking to build endurance (zone 2), improve your cardiovascular capacity (zone 3), develop your lactic acid threshold (zone 4), or get faster (zone 5), the combination of the Sports Tracker Smart Sensor heart rate monitor and the Sports Tracker App will give you all the guidance and feedback you need to achieve your goal.
If used correctly heart rate training can be as useful as having your own personal running coach – for a fraction of the cost!